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Arkansas Razorbacks 99, SIU-E Cougars 65: Dim the Lights, Draw the Curtains

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Like an exhibition, but with a bigger crowd.

Wesley Hitt

The Cougars held a 10-7 lead five and a half minutes into the game, but then the Hogs went a dominant 42-9 run over the next 12 minutes that really ended any question about the outcome of the game.

It felt sort of like an exhibition game, only the Razorbacks were more dominant than they were in those games, building a 30-point lead in the first half. Alandise Harris helped spark the big run when he came entered the game after a few minutes, and ended up scoring 11 points before halftime. Anthlon Bell shooting touch caught fire after he came back in after his first rest, and actually led the team in scoring both in the first half with 12 points, and the entire game with 18 overall.

"I think that's a great shooting night right there," said Harris after the game regarding Bell's performance.

The big play in the middle of the run was a Michael Qualls dunk that may have been the most phenomenal dunk of his Razorback career, which is saying something.

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"Once I got him with the pump fake, it was all fair game from there," said Qualls after the game.

Said Mike Anderson, "He's been trying to do it for the last year and a half, I think."

With a big lead out of halftime, the Cougars started making a little dent in the lead, but never got within 22 points.

It was enough for Anderson to call a timeout and put a new lineup on the floor.

"We've got to learn how to play with a lead," he said afterward.

But there was never a serious threat, and the Hogs claimed their first victory of the year.

In addition to Bell and Harris, Coty Clarke, Qualls, and Mardracus Wade all finished in double figures. It was a particularly nice bounce-back performance from Wade, who missed all his field goal attempts in the final exhibition game, but Friday night he made a strong drive to the rim the first time he touched the ball, and picked up the And1.  He also made his only three point attempt.

It was a better three-point performance than what the team showed last year, knocking down 8-of-16 from behind the arc. Bell was 5-for-6, and the rest of the team only attempted 10 threes. Especially considering the intensity was a bit low in the second half, it's at least a good sign that the team didn't start settling for bad threes late in the game.

It wasn't the best night statistically for newcomer Bobby Portis, who finished with six points, five rebounds, and three blocks, but he was also the player back on the court shortly after the game already working to improve for the next game.

Portis was "a little jumpy," said Anderson. "It's his first night, you never know."

He, and the team, will only get better.